On Mon, 13 Oct 2014, I sent in my application for the SAFVC.
Just in case you don’t know what it stands for, it’s the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps. And what’s that? Well, as quoted from www.mindef.gov.sg ,
The SAF Volunteer Corps is a uniformed volunteer scheme introduced to provide more Singaporeans and Permanent Residents the opportunity to contribute to national defence, show support for National Service and deepen their understanding and ownership of national defence.
Just before you make a big hoohaa, listen to what I have to say, because the first thing that would probably come out of your mouth would be : “You’re crazy.” or, “Don’t do it!!”. If it’s not something along those lines, then thank you very much for supporting me, or not discouraging me from doing so.
95% of friends – guys and girls alike, that I spoke to about my crazy idea of volunteering, told me not to do it. I tried to understand where they were coming from, but then I decided that I would still go ahead anyway. Not that I was being stubborn, but I wanted to try something new, and a small part of me always wanted to sign on, but I didn’t have the guts to. I’ll explain why later.
I think with the official announcement of the SAFVC, came many negative comments, not so sure if there were any good ones.. I may not be from the SAF nor have I served NS, but here’s what I have to say about some of these concerns.
I SERVED FOR 2 @#$%!&$ YEARS BUT THEY ONLY NEED TO STAY-IN A FEW WEEKS??!!
Okay first, calm down. Set your hard feelings aside. I know it’s hard to, and you might say I’ve never been through NS so I don’t know shit and should keep my mouth shut. Singapore is a small country, and we need an army to defend ourselves should we ever be at war, but with such a small population it would be hard to make up the numbers needed to form an army big enough that we wouldn’t be pushed over by the enemy. I know all guys give up 2 years of their life just to serve and defend us, and still have to be subject to reservist call-ups even after they ORD, and I truly respect all your determination and willpower that is needed to go through and serve NS.
It must be horrible thinking everyday that your other mates (girls or those that don’t need to serve) are overtaking you in uni/poly/work/life, and when you come out of NS they’re already your seniors in school or might have gotten a full-time job. But since the Enlistment Act is there and looks unlikely to change for the next few years, unless of course there is world peace and all countries agree that they will not go to war against each other forever and ever…. Then there is no point brooding over it every single day and making your lives just more miserable in camp. I know that the time could be put to better use, you say. Even doing things like playing computer games, for example, could help you learn more than when you’re in NS.
Well I guess just try to make friends with the people that you’re stuck with for the next few months, and try to make it a happier and lively place so that at the very least, we all suffer together and go through it together. And that in the end, you all have each other. It’s a cycle of life, each time you’re placed in a new environment, you just have to settle down eventually. Otherwise, if your mindset is always so negative, then you will never see the good things in life(however small they may be) that you could learn out of situations like these.
It would also not be ideal to expand the Enlistment Act such that it involves the new citizens and PRs, because Singapore also needs new immigrants to keep our economy up and running. I’m sure if I knew I had to serve for 2 years before I could become a citizen, I wouldn’t even bother. Expanding the Enlistment Act to include women however, is up to discussion. I, for one, don’t mind. But that’s just me. I am probably one of the minority among girls my age that think this way.
Why don’t you just sign on since you’re so enthu about it? /insert sarcastic tone
I vaguely remember mentioning this idea of signing on to my parents, but I’m sure they would have said I’m crazy, why do that? Why I didn’t have the guts to sign on was because I was afraid of the commitment. I’d have to take a year off my uni to complete my BMT, and then back to uni, after graduating, I would probably have to serve for 3-4 years to fulfil my contract. What if I didn’t like it inside? I just wanted to try the army life, but I wasn’t sure if I would change my mind when I went in. Also, I thought that if I did badly for A’s and didn’t get any offers, my alternative would be to sign on. Yes, stupid idea, why don’t I just retake A’s right?
Which idiot will sign up to kena tekan?!!
Okay so the SAFVC is open to
Singapore Citizens and First Generation Singapore PRs with no NS obligations, both males and females of age 18-45.
But as we can all infer, it roughly means 2 target audiences, the women of Singapore, as well as the Singapore PRs. Since women and PRs are not subject to the Enlistment Act, the only other option before SAFVC came about, was for them to sign on. Signing on is a big thing, like I mentioned previously. There is no chance to regret once you’ve done so, because you have to fulfil your contract. This volunteer scheme is actually a good idea for those who have half a mind to sign on, to try and get a sneak peek at what they’re in for.
Of course, they might treat SAFVC recruits differently, so it might not be an accurate portrayal of how it is actually like serving in NS. So, it is up to him/her to reconsider, after serving in SAFVC, whether he/she would still like to sign on. No one would sign up to be “tekaned”. He/she might have a strong passion for wanting to serve the country, or to experience the army life. And I’ll say this again, the SAFVC is actually perfect for these people to get a taste of how it feels, to make sure that they don’t regret signing on.
Why they can choose vocations one so unfair!
There are 17 vocations you can choose from in the SAFVC, namely –
Auxiliary Security Trooper
Deck Operator (Seamanship)
Airbase Civil Engineer
Naval Safety Engineer
Naval Combat/Platform Engineer
Legal Specialist Staff
Merchant Ship Engineering Trainer
Merchant Ship Operations Trainer
As my guy friends in NS say, you don’t get to choose your vocations. Perhaps you could express interest, but there is a very small chance of you actually getting what you indicated interest for. In SAFVC, you’re given the option to choose between the 17 vocations, and indicate your top 3 options in your application form. I’ve read through the job descriptions and noticed that there are pre-requisites for 14 of the vocations. They require you to have either working experience, or have a diploma, or be a certified professional in your area of expertise. The 3 vocations that do not have any pre-requisites (as of 15 Oct 2014) are the Auxiliary Security Trooper, Bridge Watchkeeper, and the Deck Operator (Seamanship).
I am not entirely sure whether the illusion of free choice is being played out here, because I definitely do not fulfil any of the pre-requisites that 14 of the vocations stated. I’m sure pre-requisites are meant to be there for a reason. So I don’t know if this means that I can still choose that vocation and be considered for it, regardless of my lack of expertise in that area. However, I highly doubt that this is the case. Let’s say I choose to be a Doctor, I don’t think that 3-4 weeks of training is sufficient for me or anyone else (unless he is an absolute genius) to become a full-fledged doctor… and serve for just 7 days a year. Hence I don’t think we can really choose a vocation, per se. If you’d like to know, I put my 3 choices as those that don’t have any pre-requisites.
This is just another opportunity for people to leak military secrets!
Hmmmm. I’m sure before the SAFVC was officially announced, the government and SAF would have gotten together to discuss the perpetual flaws in the system of the SAFVC, and then fine-tuned it. Also, from the FAQs section in the mindef website –
All SAFVC enlistees are members of the SAF, just like our NSFs and NSmen. During their service, they will be subject to a disciplinary framework based on military law.
So judging from that, I’m sure that sensitive information and material should not leak out, and those who are truly committed to the SAFVC would know better than to do that. Even if it did, the perpetrator would be dealt with severely.
Also, aside from the intake of 100-150 a year, I think it is highly possible that the applications for the SAFVC would way outnumber that, as the number of able-bodied women and PRs that are aged 18-45 isn’t very little – setting aside maybe 1% of that number would be way more than 150 already. That would allow SAFVC to screen and run background checks on the applicants first, before calling them up for an interview, shortlisting the applicants and making sure that they are really passionate to serve.
Well, I guess I’ve said what I wanted to say. I know that whatever I’ve said will most probably draw flak from both guys and girls alike. Whatever I say will not be able to please both parties, and I will not try to do that, because it is my opinion and I am entitled to say whatever I please. All I am trying to do is explain what was going through my head when I sent in the application form for SAFVC, and why we all shouldn’t keep criticising this new initiative. The grass always seems greener on the other side, right? Who knows, I might not be able to get in anyway. There will probably be much more garang women than me, who are employed in the right jobs and fulfil the pre-requisites for certain vocations. And I’m sorry if I’ve gotten any facts wrong.